Ride-hailing services operating in Karachi have decided to suspend their operations as Sindh goes into a 15-day lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Careem announced that it is temporarily suspending its services across Sindh “till further notice” following the lockdown announcement.
Uber also took a similar step.
“Following the decision of the Sindh Government to impose a lockdown to fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we are suspending Uber operations in Karachi until further notice,” it said in a statement. The company has said that they will remain “in close contact with local authorities and will continue to follow their guidance”.
SWVL has also temporarily suspended its operations in Karachi. General Manager Shahzeb Memon said that they are waiting for official developments and then make a decision about their operations in Lahore and Islamabad.
Airlift, in a statement on March 18, announced that they are suspending their operations in Karachi and Lahore till April 6.
Bykea, on the other hand, has yet to confirm their status.
Foodpanda, a food delivery app, has yet to release an official statement on if their services will continue or not during the lockdown.
Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani had said that no exceptions will be given to any ride-hailing service before Careem and Uber announced the suspension in their operations. He, however, clarified that people who are found using these services in cases of emergency will be allowed to do so as long as they are able to “establish their purpose”.
South District Commissioner Irshad Ali said that none of the ride-hailing services will be allowed to continue their operations during the lockdown. He said that if one person is given the exception then they will have to give it to others too. “So the rule is unanimous for everyone,” he added.
At least two of the ride-hailing services confirmed, both off record, that DC South had earlier sought their services to outsource charitable services for those in need. “We will be working with South DC’s office and facilitate them in the distribution of ration to daily wagers whose work is affected.”
The DC said that they were considering doing this but “not anymore”.
There, however, seems to be some discrepancy among the authorities as the secretary for regional transport authority, Nazeer Hussain, had claimed that they will allow some exceptions to these ride-hailing services.
SAMAA Digital even spoke to Young Nurses Association Sindh spokesperson Aijaz Kelehri and asked him about the steps they have taken to ensure the paramedical staff is able to come to hospitals.
“We have extended accommodation to nursing staff in the hospitals amid the lockdown,” he said, adding that they have sorted out ways to ensure the nursing staff is available in the hospitals in spite of provincial emergency.